The Rev. Norma Jean Mumford, assistant pastor at Allen Chapel AME Church, preached last Sunday and used an unusual text which some folks might have forgotten, or never knew, was in the book of Matthew.
She talked about how God is faithful to his children and always comes through in a pinch like he did for Peter, the disciple who often shot off his mouth and who sometimes found himself in a compromising position because of it.
On this occasion, however, this man of the water, an experienced fisherman, was being questioned by the big shots at the temple about whether or not he and his teacher-friend Jesus had paid their temple dues. Unusual for Peter, he gave a one-word response, “Yes,” and instead of intimidating anybody with smart remarks, went inside without another word.
Jesus overheard the conversation and suggested that rather than get the authorities bent out of shape about this detail, to make the payment and get on with the program.
But, hey, Peter had no ready change, much less the tidy sum the temple official was asking for. Not much fishing going on since Peter left his nets to follow this itinerant rabbi around the countryside.
So Jesus did one of those unexpected things he was known for, something nobody but the Son of God might think of.
Go down to the lake, he directed Peter, throw in your line and when the big fish takes the bait, pull him out, pry open his mouth and inside you will find a large silver coin.
Pay the dues.
Now, as a Bible reader myself, I have no idea what the passage means. As a matter of fact, it occurred to me that maybe the Holy Spirit was distracted for a few minutes and Matthew decided to stick this weird little story right at the end of his scroll, just because it was one of his favorites. In our Bible, it is Matthew 17: 24-30.
By the way, if you decide to do more fishing, be sure to let us know if anything like this happens!
A small but energetic congregation heard the Rev. Mumford’s sermon Sunday at this historic church that’s 126 years old and located on Pankey Town Road in Pankey Town, a development off the Gibson Road.
Allen Chapel has occupied the same location for all its life, with several renovations to its building over the years, according to Jesse Pankey, 89, who lives across the road and has been a member all his life.
It was organized Aug. 22, 1888, and named after the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Richard Allen. A school was built on the grounds and remained in operation until the 1940s.
Bettie McNair, also a lifetime member, said that the McLaurin family of Scotland County gave the property for the purpose of building a church.
The AME Church is a predominantly African-American Methodist denomination based in the U.S. It was founded in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1816, from several black Methodist congregations in the mid-Atlantic area that wanted independence from white Methodists.
The church is unique as it is the first major religious denomination in the western world that developed because of sociological rather than theological differences.
It was born in protest against racial discrimination and slavery. This was in keeping with the Methodist Church’s philosophy, whose founder John Wesley had once called the slave trade “that execrable sum of all villainies.”
The pastor at Allen Chapel is the Rev. Willard Rogers Jr.
Presbyterians collaborate on Bible school
The Rev. Deck Guess, pastor at Old Laurel Hill Presbyterian has only three weeks to grow a beard so he can make a realistic appearance as Abraham in the church’s Bible School that’s coming up the week of July 21.
Actually, he will be re-growing the beard he shaved off as a gift to his Mom on Mother’s Day.
Bible School this year is a cooperative effort among three Presbyterian congregations: Faith Church in Laurinburg, Church in the Pines in Laurel Hill and Old Laurel Hill.
The curriculum for this summer adventure is titled “Parents of the Faith: Abraham and Sarah.”
This curriculum is not one sold by Cokesbury or the Presbyterian Bookstore at Montreat, but a home-grown product developed primarily by the pastor.
Bible School will begin each night at 6 p.m. with a light supper, followed by classes and activities until 8 p.m.
New this year will be a class for adults dealing with the same topic and taught by a newcomer to Scotland County, Dr. Robert Bedingfield, a retired Navy chaplain, who with his wife, Nancy, recently moved to Scotia Village.
All ages are invited to attend and to learn about life in the desert and about the dysfunctional Genesis families whom God loved and with whom God made a covenant agreement.
Contact Flo Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 910-361-4135.